Bilingual French Story and Book Hotels in France and beyond
A Tip Jar, a Girl, and Wings

Undressed in Aix: A surprise warning posted in Jackie's apartment building

Escalier stairs bicycle

Wish to speak French fluently? 30-Day French
will teach you everything you need to know to speak French on your next trip to France with 30 lessons based on real-life conversations. Click here.

TODAY'S WORD: la cage d'escalier

        : staircase, stairwell

EXAMPLE SENTENCE, read by Jackie:

Ma cage d'escalier est plutôt du style ancienne époque.
My staircase is mostly in an old epoch style.

Download MP3 file and listen here

Improve your French voice, try  Exercises in French Phonetics


    by Kristi Espinasse


This weekend Jackie returned home to rest, study, and to faire son linge. I notice she brings her draps each time which tells me she has grown to appreciate the value of clean sheets. Is there anything better at the end of the day than getting into a bed of crisp, fresh-scented linens?

Though our 19-year-old was home all weekend, we rarely saw her. Holed up in her room she crammed for upcoming exams, surfacing three times a day for meals or to check on her clothes which, owing to gray skies outside, dried on an étendoir in front of our fireplace.

Sunday I carefully set the table, hoping to clue-in all three family members (Max was away skiing) that we were going to eat together! Hélas, there was a live match de tennis during mealtime (Nadal vs. Federer) so Jean-Marc rigged his computer to the TV and shouted intermittently at the screen -- causing Jackie and me to attack back:

Putain! Ça va pas de crier comme ça! (Jackie)

Oh! Arrête de crier! Tu va me donner une crise cardiaque! (Me, copying Jackie's tirade, only without the cuss words). Reestablishing law and order, Jackie and I continued our cozy conversation at the lunch table--she in her fuzzy pantoufles, and me wearing several layers to keep warm in our chilly farmhouse. At the center of the table, a just-out-of-the-oven poulet rôti brought us further back to our senses, with the scent of fresh herbs, slow-cooked onions, garlic, and butternut squash tucked beneath the bird.

"I'm glad to hear you're comfortable in your apartment," I said, as we ate. "One of the things that most attracted me to it, when your father and I were looking for a place for you, was the building's staircase. All the other apartments we saw had dark, narrow, grungy stairwells leading up to the studios. But when we walked in off the street to your building, it opened up beautifully! And for the same rent as the others (with their fire hazard staircases) you could have this grande escalier!

Jackie agreed, sharing that the cage d'escalier was historic or, as she called it, from the ancienne époque. Next, she laughed...."It's so stylish that a magazine is coming to do a photo shoot there."


"Yah. There was a notice posted inside my building. It warned that the models would NOT be dressed."

"You're kidding!" I snickered, picturing male models draped across the Rococo-plastered guard rails....

"NON! NON!" Jean-Marc howled. "NOOOOOON!"

Jackie and I set down our forks and burst out laughing. Federer must have missed the ball. :-)

*    *    *

Plastered stairwell

Stories you may have missed...

Student housing: The 5 apartments we looked at in Aix-en-Provence

No clothes dryer? How France has taught me to go green.

Increase your vocabulary with this list. More tools here.

faire le linge = to do laundry
le drap = sheet
un étendoir = drying rack
putain! = expletive, worse than dammit....
Tu vas me donner une crise cardiaque! = you're going to give me a heart attack!
la pantoufle = slipper
le poulet rôti = roast chicken

Train blue stairs and restaurant in Paris
Stairs at the famous Train Bleu restaurant in Paris's Gare de Lyon. has a great selection of rooms. Reserve your hotel, B&B, or house in Paris or any city, here.

PARIS METRO CUFF - Unique bracelet and great gift for those who love Paris. Click here.

APRONS, French-themed - keep the tomatoes in the tart and off of your nice shirt.

PARIS PEACE T-SHIRT - "so many people have stopped to ask me where I got it" -Betty.

French country cooking mimi thorisson

A captivating journey to off-the-beaten-path French wine country with 100 simple yet exquisite recipes, 150 sumptuous photographs, and stories inspire. Order Mimi Thorisson's book here.

Thank you for considering a contribution today!
Ongoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and improving this free language journal, for the past 18 years. If you enjoy this website and would like to keep it going, please know your donation towards this effort makes all the difference! No matter the weather, on good days or bad, I am committed to sharing a sunny, vocabulary-packed update with you, one you can look forward to. I hope it fuels your dreams of coming to France while expanding your French vocabulary. A contribution by check or via PayPal (or credit card, links below) is greatly appreciated. Merci!